Hey, I’m Owen — In 2014 I started making protein bars in Orlando FL and selling them at local Farmers Markets. I was 26 years old at the time and with no previous experience within the industry, I had no idea what I was getting myself into.
But I didn’t start the business because I cared about “making a mark” or competing in the oversaturated, billion dollar global protein bar market. Hell, other than maybe a CLIF BAR (who hasn’t?) I’d never even eaten a protein bar before I started making them.
Truth is, I started making protein bars because at the time it was the only way out of my situation…
While growing up, the process of building a successful business was about the only thing interesting and challenging enough to hold my attention and keep me motivated.
But I never had any kind of realistic clue what that business would actually be. Closing my eyes and fantasizing about my amazing life and “million dollar business” was easy, but when I opened my eyes I didn’t actually have anything in front of me except a bunch of distractions and headaches.
The frustrating part was that I never really felt like I was all that good at one particular thing or another. I didn’t feel like I had an obvious “calling” or hobby like a lot of other kids seemed to have. I spent a lot of time wondering, “Hmm…what can I do?”
So from age 12, starting with my first real summer job working for a parking lot line striping company in Syracuse NY (Dixie Sweeping), I always just forced my way into new ventures and followed whatever jobs, ideas or opportunities happened to pop up. Some worked out. Some didn’t.
My decision to leave Canada and move to Florida just before my 24th birthday was no different…
In pursuit of a real estate venture, I bought a one way plane ticket, packed a suitcase and moved from Canada to Florida with $40,000 cash that I saved up from my previous endeavor where I learned how to buy / sell websites for profit. I didn’t know a single person in Orlando and lived out of a motel for the first 46 nights.
My first year in the new city ended up being a total bust and just like that, I was back to square one with almost no money left in my bank account. The real estate projects didn’t work out as planned and I simultaneously burned through my entire savings in the process.
After several months of working random odd jobs and scraping together cash to pay rent, I was given a protein bar recipe from my friend back in Canada. I took that recipe and literally put everything I had into building a protein bar business from scratch.
I forfeited my apartment, sold my personal belongings, slept on a folding cot in the back of my rented production space for over 2.5 years and showered in my flip-flops at the YMCA. I made over 100,000 protein bars – 12 bars at a time – with a pizza cutter and a rolling pin until eventually transitioning from handmade to manufacturing using industrial equipment that I found on eBay.
Having slept on a cot for over 2.5 years while building my business, the idea and inspiration to start SPREAD YOUR WINGS. BE WILD! came to me when I finally moved back into an apartment after getting my line of protein bars accepted into Whole Foods. (I passed on that opportunity 11 days later. Here’s why.)
By combining my protein bar business with my lifelong passion for entrepreneurship (SPREAD YOUR WINGS.) and adventure (BE WILD!), I hope to encourage other people to pursue their own goals, dreams, and visions. Whatever they might be.
Life is short. Be wild!